Citizens and small businesses share e-bikes & cargo e-bikes, sharing costs and responsibilities, using a distributed public charging system.
In the spirit of promoting a local and cohesive community and the sharing of resources, to cover transportation needs of individuals and local businesses, e-bikes and cargo e-bikes are co-owned and co-operated. The e-bikes/ cargo e-bikes are owned by groups of 5-7 individuals and 2-3 local businesses forming trust groups, which in turn share their e-bikes/ cargo e-bikes with other trust groups. The sharing of resources within members of a community encourages responsible behaviour and respect for common goods. Individuals may use e-bikes for about an hour a day, whereas business user requirements may vary, and sharing them reduces cost and demand on material and infrastructure (parking).
Responsibility of maintaining and rebalancing of e-bikes is carried out by the user community and/ or shared with social facilities such as inner-city programs for the disadvantaged, further co-opting various sections of society. Some special repair work may be outsourced to local workshops. The use of local workshop talents will be a central and long-term goal, in facilitating locally made products. Whether this work could also include elements of manufacturing/ assembly of products will need to be examined, in the course of the project. Work that is outsourced is either paid for, or an exchange (barter) of services/ products is agreed upon. For example, local farmers at the farmers market may require access to cargo e-bikes, which could be compensated with produce.
Group(s) individuals (owners with operational responsibility) –> e-bikes/ cargo e-bikes
Group(s) businesses (owners with operational responsibility) –> e-bikes/ cargo e-bikes
Autonomous chargers accessed via mobile phone
Timebank database (backend) accessed via web/ mobile phone
Social facility (tentative) –> Rebalancing, maintenance
Local workshop (tentative) –> Assembly, repairs
Non-profit –> Coordination
Autonomous chargers, in locker boxes that can charge multiple batteries simultaneously, are installed in convenient places and plugged in to grid or PV power. The charger boxes are setup at railway stations bus/ tram stops, supermarkets, offices and residential areas. These universal chargers will automatically charge batteries to various voltage and current levels.
Access to the e-bikes and to the chargers is done using mobile phones and GSM communication. Use of services and work carried out is documented in a timebank database. Time recorded is converted to an exchange coupon.
It is proposed to use this solution as a project that is to be replicated in multiple cities worldwide, in the form of a Community Commons sharing of intellectual property.
Who will take these actions?
Key actors: A (to be formed) non-profit, or the extension of an operating non-profit, tasked with additional responsibility; users, who are individuals and small businesses, as product champions; social facilities for rebalancing and maintenance (as required); local workshops (as required) for repairs and sourcing of e-bikes.
A non-profit is an umbrella organisation, as a coordination body. Interested citizens and businesses are called to participate in the initial phase, as product champions. Product champions form sub-groups, to source e-bikes and install chargers at select points. The operation and maintenance of the timebank database and supervising/ coordination responsibility is carried out by the non-profit.
The pilot test will be carried out in the town of Stans, Switzerland. In the pilot test phase, a 100 product champions are foreseen. The test phase will run for a year with 15 e-bikes and 5 charging stations.
The author welcomes an opportunity to be able to interact with like-minded individuals, institutions and towns/ cities, who may like to envisage participating in the pilot phase. The potential for a cross-fertilisation of differing implementation scenarios would broaden the effect and provide sufficient data for a more widespread and positive effect.
What are the projected costs?
- 15 e-bikes: Crowd-sourced
- Running costs (electricity, repairs, parts etc.): Crowd-sourced
- Services from non-profit, social facilities and local workshops: Crowd-sourced
- Webserver, mobile interface and timebank database: $800.00
- 5 chargers, with each charger charging up to 3x batteries; development, manufacturing and installation: $7’500.00. Development costs are a one-off expense. Subsequent batch manufacturing is expected to cost a couple of hundred USD. Lockers and installation costs will vary depending on local conditions.
March – May 2021: Development of chargers, test and installation
March – May 2021: Webserver, mobile interface
March 2021: Non-profit setup; formation of product champion groups
April – May 2021: Crowd-sourcing e-bikes
June 2021 – May 2022: Pilot test phase
The peer-to-peer shared e-bike scheme with the infrastructure will run for a period of 4 years, after which the e-bikes, timebank software and charging infrastructure may require an overhaul/ update and/ or replacement.
About the author(s)
A mechanical engineer working in the promotion of community commons, self-governance, urban energy, community food and transportation.